The Art of Prompting: How to Effectively Communicate with AI

(Note: This blog post was originally published on the blog, Genealogy with Dana Leeds: Creator of the Leeds Method.)

The Art of Prompting

Are you looking to improve your interactions with AI systems? One key aspect to consider is the type of prompts you use. In this post, we’ll explore five essential prompt types: Vanilla Prompting, Few-Shot Prompting, Chain-of-Thought Prompting, Role-Based Prompting, and Multi-Modal Prompting. By understanding these different approaches, you can communicate more effectively and get the most out of your AI conversations. Let’s get started!

Vanilla Prompting: The Straightforward Ask

Vanilla prompting is the simplest way to communicate with AI. It’s like asking a direct question or giving a simple command.

Chatbot Saying Paris

Image generated by Dall-E

Prompt: “What is the capital of France?”
AI Response: “The capital of France is Paris.”

In vanilla prompting, you ask a clear question, and the AI uses its knowledge to answer.

Few-Shot Prompting: Learning from Examples

In few-shot prompting, you teach the AI by giving it examples before asking it to perform a task, helping it understand what kind of answer you need.

You want the AI to translate phrases into Spanish. First, give it an example, then ask for what you really want.
Example prompt: “Translate ‘Hello, how are you?’ into Spanish.”
AI’s response: “Hola, ¿cómo estás?”
Actual task prompt: “Translate ‘Nice to meet you’ into Spanish.”
AI’s response: “Encantado de conocerte.”

This approach trains the AI with examples, preparing it for the real task.

Chain-of-Thought Prompting: Step-by-Step Reasoning

Chain-of-thought prompting lets the AI break down complex issues into smaller, understandable steps.

Chatbot showing answer is 15

Image generated by Dall-E

Prompt: “Explain how to find the sum of the numbers 1 to 5.”
AI’s Response: “List the numbers 1 to 5. Add them sequentially: 1+2 is 3, 3+3 is 6, 6+4 is 10, and 10+5 is 15. So, the sum is 15.”

The AI explains the process step by step, making it clear how it reached the solution.

Role-Based Prompting: Assuming a Persona

Role-based prompting means you ask the AI to act like someone or something else, guiding its responses.

Prompt: “As a fitness coach, give me advice on how to start exercising.”
AI Response: “Start with light activities like walking, then gradually include more intense exercises. Balance is key for a good fitness routine.”

Here, the AI adopts the persona of a fitness coach, tailoring its advice to that role.

Multi-Modal Prompting: Beyond Text

Multi-modal prompting involves using different types of data, like text and images, for a richer interaction.

Crowded Beach

Image generated by Dall-E

Prompt: [Image of a crowded beach] “Describe this scene.”
AI Response: “The image shows a crowded beach with people sunbathing and playing, under a clear blue sky.”

This uses both image and text data, showing the AI’s ability to handle and integrate different types of information.

Understanding these prompting styles can improve your interaction with AI, making your requests more effective and the responses more useful. Whether you need straightforward answers, detailed explanations, personalized advice, or comprehensive analysis, knowing how to prompt AI can unlock new levels of creativity and efficiency.

Building on Previous Explorations

In a previous post, I explored the difference between simple prompts and prompt engineering in my genealogy research. At the time, I referred to “simple” prompts, which I now understand are called “vanilla” prompts. The more complex prompts I experimented with fall under the category of “engineered” prompts, which include few-shot, chain-of-thought, role-based, and multi-modal prompting.

If you’re interested in learning more about my initial experiments with AI prompting in genealogy, check out my post: “Simple Prompts vs Prompt Engineering: A Genealogist’s Experiment with AI.” While my understanding of prompt types has grown since then, the thoughts and experiments shared in that post are still relevant and provide valuable insights into the practical application of AI in genealogy research.

From Prompts to Practice: Your Next Steps in AI Mastery

Now that you’ve learned about the different types of AI prompts, it’s time to take your AI skills to the next level. Join me in an exciting 8-week journey of discovery and application in my upcoming course, “AI Explorations in Genealogy & Beyond.” This immersive experience features collaborative learning, hands-on projects, weekly challenges, and a supportive community to help you master AI techniques and apply them to your genealogy research and beyond.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to expand your AI knowledge and connect with like-minded enthusiasts. Sign up now and get ready to unlock the full potential of AI in your projects! Click here to learn more!

If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends, family, and colleagues who are interested in AI or genealogy. By spreading the word, you can help others discover the power of AI prompting and inspire them to join our growing community of AI explorers.

Remember, the more we share our knowledge and experiences, the faster we can collectively advance the field of AI and its applications. So, let’s keep learning, sharing, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with AI!

AI Acknowledgement

This blog post was written with the assistance of AI tools Claude 3 Opus and ChatGPT 4, demonstrating the power of AI in content creation and collaboration.