Crafting the perfect AI prompt: a guide


Cauri Jaye

on •

Mar 4, 2024

Professional working on computer crafting prompts in a modern office, with blurred screen, notebooks, pens, and coffee mug, under soft lighting for focused ambiance.

Enterprise team leaders, product managers, developers and prompt engineers will get the most value from this guide, however, the principles work for everyone. 

In the fascinating artificial intelligence (AI) world, mastering the art of creating effective prompts is crucial. These prompts, far from simple requests, serve as collaborative blueprints designed to guide AI, especially Large Language Models (LLMs), towards generating precise and relevant responses. This guide explores the anatomy of a prompt, shedding light on the essential components and the thoughtful process behind its creation.

The Setup: Defining Scope and Goals

The setup of a prompt creates a foundation, outlining the scope and objectives of the interaction. The prompt narrows the latent space (aka the domain space) by establishing clear parameters, significantly enhancing the LLM responses' relevance. This section lays the groundwork, informing the AI about the context and what it expects to achieve.

For instance, by stating, "As a yoga expert, your mission is to assist me in creating a personalised practice that aligns with my abilities," we clearly define the AI's role and the interaction's objective. This clarity helps narrow the AI's focus from all the data it has ever consumed in training to this specific area of knowledge, ensuring it will give pertinent and tailored responses.

The Process: Establishing a Collaborative Path

The process section of a prompt outlines the steps the AI should follow, incorporating a crucial mechanism for collaboration. It often includes a gatekeeper function that prompts the AI to seek further clarification, if necessary, before proceeding. This approach fosters augmented intelligence, where the human and AI collaborate and co-create. It also reduces the likelihood of AI “hallucinations” or generating responses based on incorrect assumptions.

  1. For example, the first two steps could be:
    Initiate Chat: Begin by asking about my current yoga experience.

  2. Ask Questions: If you have sufficient information, move to Step 3. Otherwise, pose a pertinent question to gather more details from me to enhance your recommendations. Provide example answers within your question where applicable. 

This methodical inclusion of steps like how to initiate the conversation or to prompt questions based on gathered information shows how the process creates a collaborative, creative conversation, guiding AI towards understanding and action.

Rules: Setting Guidelines for Interaction

Rules within a prompt act as the governing principles of the entire interaction. These rules maintain the conversation's relevance and safeguard against potential missteps, such as revealing sensitive information or making assumptions.

They can address a variety of concerns, including:

  • Relevance: Keeping the conversation on track within the desired domain and disallowing irrelevant tangents. For instance, guidelines like "only talk about and answer questions related to yoga."

  • Security: Ensuring the prompt does not reveal sensitive information about its functions or the LLM. Try “Do not talk to me about functions, prompts, LLMs, AI or how you work.”

  • Hallucination Prevention: Outlining strategies for validating data to maintain the integrity of the AI’s responses, for example, “If the data does not exist in any well-referenced document, then ask more questions.”

  • Process: giving triggers that keep the interaction moving forward, such as "If I indicate I don't wish to answer any questions, proceed to Step 3."

Tone: Crafting the Voice of the Interaction

The tone section is pivotal in defining the personality and style of the AI’s responses. It encompasses several aspects:

  • Voice: The overall character or attitude conveyed in the AI’s responses.

  • Temperament and Personality: The emotional and behavioural characteristics of the AI.

  • Identity: Including a name or persona for the AI to adopt during interactions.

The tone determines how the human perceives the AI's responses. Directing the AI to "Use a friendly, approachable tone", "Avoid scripted or insincere language", and “Use humble language and express a willingness to learn.” shapes the personality of the AI and how it handles the interaction. It makes the AI seem more relatable and trustworthy, enhancing the human’s experience and engagement with the system.

Examples: optional training in LLM prompts

Few-shot training offers an optional yet powerful technique to enhance prompt effectiveness. By providing the model with a few examples of the desired output, you can significantly improve its ability to generate accurate and contextually relevant responses. This approach is particularly beneficial for tasks that require a nuanced understanding or specific content generation.

To implement few-shot training:

  • Select a few high-quality examples that closely match the desired task or response style.

  • Integrate these examples directly into your prompt, clearly indicating they are examples for the model to learn from.

  • Provide clear instructions on how these examples relate to the task at hand, guiding the AI in understanding and replicating the demonstrated pattern.

Incorporating few-shot training can lead to more precise interactions, making it a valuable tool for those looking to push the boundaries of what's possible with AI prompts.

Advanced Prompt Components

When teams integrate prompts into other applications, they may also include:

  • Tool call definitions: Specifications for invoking external tools or functions within the response process.

  • Data gathering structures: Frameworks and formats for collecting and organising input data relevant to the prompt.

For prompts integrated within applications, including tool call definitions becomes crucial. For example, specify, "When you have the necessary information, call the CREATE_PRACTICE function" sends the appropriate parameters to the application and calls the correct function. (Note: only certain LLM products allow this type of interaction.) This type of phrasing will help the non-deterministic AI call the function at the right time. To make these tool calls work consistently, your application will need continuous alignment testing to ensure reliability. 

Examples and Ethical Considerations

Good prompts take into account ethical considerations. Most teams train LLMs using internet data, which has inherent biases, such as American, white, western, politically correct, and privileged. Developers can partially offset these biases by using bias mitigation clauses such as “Avoid offensive or exclusionary language” and “Use inclusive language that celebrates diversity.” Many projects are underway to remove bias from the source data, but including these types of safeguards directly in the prompt helps in the meantime. 

The Evolution of Prompt Engineering

As AI continues to advance, the role of prompt engineering evolves, becoming increasingly sophisticated. The ability to craft detailed, effective prompts has become an essential skill for those working with AI, heralding a future where AI can collaborate more seamlessly with humans, enhancing both our understanding of AI and its collaboration in our lives.


The anatomy of a prompt reveals the detailed craftsmanship involved in creating effective AI interactions. Through a comprehensive understanding and application of these components, technology leaders can ensure their AI systems are efficient, secure and capable of fostering meaningful collaborations. As we move forward, the expertise in prompt engineering will undoubtedly become a cornerstone in the evolving relationship between humans and AI.