Ep 77 The CLEAR Acronym for Writing Effective Prompts

blog Nov 15, 2023

 In episode 77, we use the acronym CLEAR to write effective prompts. 

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You're listening to the remote work retirement show. I'm your host, Camille Attell. And this is the only show that helps semi-retirees figure out the remote work options. I believe that remote work is the new retirement plan. And that many retirees have both the ability and desire to work, how, and why, so they can live, how they want. Let's dig into today's episode.

Welcome back today.

We revisit the acronym CLEAR for writing effective prompts. Now in episode 76, I laid the foundation for why learning, how to write prompts is a great skill that you should learn, and it can open a lot of doors for you, whether you want to work as an employee for a company. Or work for yourself in a business. And I kind of alluded to this acronym called CLEAR in last week's episode.

And then before that, I talked a whole bunch about what it means to write an effective prompt. So if y haven't listened to episode 76 first I guess you could wait and listen to it after this, but it might help you connect that episode to this episode because all I want to do today is dig right into this acronym so that you can actually use it.

When you start using prompts in chatGPT, or any AI tool you're using like Bard or Bing, Canva or copy AI, or Grammarly. The list goes on and on you get the point. So today, what I want to do is give you a different example. It's also a real-world example. And to do that I'm first going to walk you through what each letter of the CLEAR acronym means, and then how I used it in this example. And then what I really hope is that you use it for yourself and try it out and see what happens. 

Before I get into this CLEAR model I want to tell you how I came up with it. Because if you hear this and you think, oh, wow, that's a really interesting model, where did Camille find that?  Well, I'll have to tell ya, I didn't find it in a book. I didn't go to school to learn it. Basically, what happened is I was watching someone else talk about prompt engineering and how they would write effective prompts. And this person shared that they had a prompt model. And I was so excited.

I was like, Ooh, a prompt model. That sounds cool. And he shared his model. And then he talked about how he just made it up. Out of thin air or his brain, I guess, to be fair. And that sent me down a rabbit hole to try to find if there are actual prompt models out there that people use because I want to know like the real one, the official one.

That's how I am. I'm like, I want to know the real deal. Well, here's what I've learned. There isn't that much official in AI right now. That's how fast things are moving. And so just like I mentioned in last week's episode, what's best is that you learn the skills and then you apply those skills to different tools, and then you figure out what works for you. And so what worked for me was coming up with my own model. And then I thought, well if I'm going to come up with my own model, it doesn't hurt to just share it with other people because hearing other people's ideas can often help you get started.

So here's the model it's called CLEAR I will also put it in the show notes if you want to just read it because sometimes, I think seeing it can also help. The other thing I want to tell you about this model is I used my brain and ideas and creative ideas and all of that. But then I took it into chatGPT and I asked chatGPT to help me flesh out the model more.

And you've heard me on this podcast show talk about how I use AI to be a thought partner. This is the exact example of how I did that and how you could do that as well. You don't even have to use my model. You could try to come up with your own. So what do I mean by that? Well, let me start with the first thing I did, I went into chatGPT and I gave it a prompt. The prompt was something along the lines of "I'm working on an acronym to help me write an effective prompt. Can you come up with some acronyms?" And it did. It came up with all these interesting acronyms. I didn't love them all, some were long.

So, what I did was keep asking chatGPT to get better and better.

And I gave it new parameters, new prompts, and I told it really what I wanted it to say and do. And I finally got to a refinement. This acronym is called CLEAR And all of this took me. I don't know, maybe about 10 minutes. And you might say to yourself, well, couldn't you have just made this up on your own without AI?

Yeah, sure. I could have, but it might've taken me. I don't know, three times as long or more. And the other thing I wanted to make sure of is that someone else hadn't already invented this thing. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't plagiarizing someone else or something else out there.

So then I asked chatGPT to tell me if someone else had invented this clear model. And it told me that it had not. Now can I count on that? A hundred percent? No, not necessarily, but for my purposes right now, I think I'm pretty safe because this is my original idea. And I've at least done some research to determine that I wasn't using someone else's material.

Let me tell you what CLEAR stands for. So the C in CLEAR is all about Context and context is making sure that you are using a prompt that describes the thing that you want. And I'll give you an example here in just a moment. So you want to give it all the important details. Next is L and I call this Logistics. This can be anything. It could be maybe the length of the answer you're looking for. For example, if you're trying to write a cover letter for a job maybe you want that cover letter to be no more than 500 words. That might be an example of logistics, or maybe you're looking for it to be displayed to you in some sort of a format like a table or a list or have bullet points. Those are some examples of Logistics.

Next, we have E which stands for Examples. Now examples are good to put in a prompt. As the AI is coming up with answers for you it has a reference point. Examples could be things that you rule in or rule out. People call this ruling things in and ruling things out. For example, in my Mediterranean diet plan example from last week, I talked about how I didn't want anything that had gluten or dairy in it. So that was giving it a really specific example of things I didn't want.

Then we have A, which is Audience, and that's good. Especially if you're working on marketing materials and you want to write for a specific audience, or you want to come up with some messaging for a specific audience. That could be an important element to put into your prompt.

And lastly, his role. Role is all about what role you want your AI to play. This one has been a real eye-opener for me and a lot of people. And what that means is, let's say you're asking a health question. And you know, if you Google a health question, you're going to get a whole bunch of random articles, right? Some of those articles will be from experts, doctors, or health experts. Some of those might be from people who aren't experts at all, but just have something to say about the thing you're asking. Well, you can ask your AI to play a specific role like a doctor, or, in my case with the Mediterranean diet example I asked it to be a meal planner. So this is the CLEAR model: Context Logistics Examples Audience Role.

Now in episode 76, I lay out the exact prompt using the CLEAR model to come up with my Mediterranean meal plan. So if you'd like to see that example or listen to that podcast, then go back to last week. This week I want to use a real-world example and that is I'm helping my dad find new flute and saxophone students. So he's been playing flute and saxophone for really his entire life and he would like to get more students. During the pan or before the pandemic, he was teaching students in person. During the pandemic, he was forced to do it online. He doesn't love that but now he's open to both. His preference is in person but he's open to online.

So let's walk through the CLEAR model using this example. I want to start with C. Remember, C is Context in the CLEAR model. Here's the context my dad wants: to find new flute and saxophone students. He is open to teaching in-person and online. Here is the L, Logistics. He isn't familiar with online platforms where he can advertise his services. "I'd like you to provide a list of the top 10 platforms that he could advertise on. Please make sure that some of the platforms are free to advertise."  Here's the E in clear. Remember this is the Examples. "Please do not include Craigslist or Wise because he already advertises there." So see what I, did I rolled these things out.

Next is A, Audience. "He is 80 years old. Yep, you heard that right he's 80 years old and he has beginner knowledge of online marketing for his services." Finally, our Role is "Please act as a marketing coach when you give us the answers." So I want to read that whole prompt to you, which is long, without putting CLEAR in there so you just kind of hear it as free form.

"My dad wants to find new flute and saxophone students. He's open to teaching in-person and online. He isn't familiar with online platforms where he can advertise his services. I'd like you to provide a list of the top 10 platforms he could advertise on. Please make sure that some of these are free to advertise. Do not include Craigslist or Wise because he already advertises there. He is 80 years old and has beginner knowledge of online marketing for his services. Please act as a marketing coach."

So you got to hear the entire prompt without me breaking down CLEAR And like I mentioned last week you might've heard that and thought well wow how would I remember how to say all of that? You don't. You could certainly start with something a little simpler like "Please give me 10 online job platforms to advertise my flute classes." But the point I want to make here is the reason why you might not be excited with AI the way I am or getting the answers you want is that you might be using really general prompts. And so I wanted to give you a very specific example so that you could see how AI will give you a specific result. You don't have to remember it because you could just borrow my CLEAR model. I'll put it in the show notes if you want it.

Now let me tell you what the system spit out for me. It said "Certainly. (because it's very agreeable) Here's a list of 10 platforms where your dad could advertise his flute and saxophone teaching services including some that are free to use. I'll also keep in mind that your dad has limited online marketing experience. Here are some suggestions. So before I read the suggestions, if you also would like to advertise his services somewhere this list might be helpful for you, number one Facebook Marketplace."

It did give me more context but I'm not going to read all of these. But let me give you some examples of what it said about some of these. Number one is Facebook Marketplace. It said your dad can create a listing of flute lessons on Facebook Marketplace for free. It's a popular platform with a wide user base. Now here's what's interesting to me about number one. I should know this. I use Facebook Marketplace all the time to sell things from my house or buy things from people. It didn't even occur to me that I could put his classes on there and it should have. This is why I think AI is so cool. This was an obvious answer and I didn't even remember it but AI did.

Here's another great one. Next Door. Number two is Next Door. And I'll read this one. I won't read all of it because it's just going to get too long. "Next Door is a neighborhood-focused platform where people often look for local services. Your dad can post a service there and it's also free."

Number three is local community websites. Number four is teaching websites. It talked about some websites I've never heard of like Take Lessons and Lesson Face. I don't even know what those are, maybe you do. Number five music teaching directories and it even listed some out like Lesson Maestro.com, YouTube. Number seven is Instagram, number eight is Google My Business and number nine is LinkedIn. Number 10 is local music schools or stores. Holy cow that's like six more than my dad and I even came up with on our own. This is why I tell you this. These tools are really powerful and knowing how to write an effective prompt, like using the CLEAR model, can give you such a different result. Rather than saying oh hey can you tell me 10 places to advertise my classes.

Okay, so that's all we're going to cover for today—just the CLEAR model. One more time let me go through it. C is for Context, L is for Logistics, E is for Examples, A is for Audience, and R is for Role.

I hope you learned something today. I hope you use this model. Please use it and then I'd love to hear how it went. So shoot me a message on Instagram or you could direct message me. I'll put a link in the show notes. I hope you enjoyed today's episode. 

If you're looking to learn more about artificial intelligence in practical ways that will help you get a better job keep a job start a side business or make income in new ways join the wait list for my next round of the AI Skillet Skills Program coming to you in November 2023. Click the link in the show notes to join. By clicking the link you are not obligated to join. You're only just going to get some emails from me to learn more about the program.

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