How to use ChatGPT prompts to write effective emails

Have you ever wished you had a personal assistant to help you with your emails? ChatGPT and other AI chatbots can be valuable tools in upping your email game – but only with effective guidance from you. So let’s chat about the best prompts and instructions you can use to get the most out of your AI assistant.
by Alyssa Schmitt
Young woman sits at desk using computer
Wondering how to use AI prompts to improve your emails?

By now you have probably heard of ChatGPT, Open AI’s artificial intelligence chatbot that took the world by storm in late 2022. This also spawned the release of other AI-based tools such as Google’s Bard and an AI-enhanced version of Microsoft’s Bing search engine. ChatGPT has moved beyond the initial beta release GPT3 and is now available in a free version of GDP3.5 as well as GPT4 through the paid GPTPlus version. These new AI-tools are being welcomed by many as valuable assistants in professional and personal settings.

Since mail.com is all about email, we’ve been exploring email writing with GPT3.5. Our experience shows that the chatbot can be a useful tool in crafting email content – provided you give it clear instructions and prompts. Here’s a look at some of the ways you can harness the power of AI to create the perfect email message.

What are ChatGPT prompts and why are they useful?

ChatGPT may seem like a technological miracle – you type in a question and get instant answers! Individual milage will vary, however, depending on the wording of your question or request. A poorly phrased question will result in an answer that might be too vague or general to be of any use, or even incorrect. Experienced AI chatbot users recommend certain formulations, known as prompts, to get the best results.

Examples of ChatGPT prompts

  • “Act as if…” helps the chatbot understand the role you are asking it to play, and therefore the type of information you’re looking for. For example, starting your query with a phrase like “Act as if you are an expert on healthy weight loss” or “Act as if you are a gourmet vegetarian cookbook author” will help you get a more precise and helpful answer when paired with a more general question like “What should I eat for dinner this week?”
  • Here is the problem:” is another way to provide ChatGPT or other AI chatbots with the necessary context to provide you with relevant information. For example: “Here is the problem: my foodie vegetarian neighbors are coming to dinner tomorrow. I need a menu and a shopping list."
  • Tell me what information you need to do this.” In many cases, ChatGPT can tell you what information it requires to fulfill your request. For example, if you are writing a cover letter and would like a the chatbot to provide a customized message rather than a generic template, you could ask: “I need help writing a cover letter for a job application. Tell me what information you need to do this.” Then you can continue the chat with the information it asks for.
As you can see from the above, one of the keys to using ChatGPT, Bard, etc. is to provide as much context and information as possible for your specific query. So, even more important than a specific prompt is formulating a question that covers all the bases. For example, you could enter a detailed query like this for best results: “I need to change a project timeline due to a lack of resources. Can you help me phrase an email to my supervisor explaining the situation and asking for their support?”

Be aware of privacy issues and accuracy of information

Unfortunately, there is always a “but…”: You need to give ChatGPT enough information to get a useful reply, but don’t make your question so specific that you enter in personal details like your name, employer, confidential company information, etc. The makers of ChatGPT state openly that it is not confidential, with any information you enter being recorded and stored in the company’s servers. Your chat can also be reviewed by AI trainers working to improve the system.

A second “but”: AI chatbots can make useful assistants, but don’t take it for granted that every answer you receive is correct. There is a widely known AI phenomenon called “hallucination,” where the chatbot puts together wrong information it finds on the web. Keep in mind that ChatGPT and its AI siblings do not actually “know” any facts – they simply analyze vast amounts of data available online and provide you with the most likely answer to your query. So always double-check the answer before using it.

Best ChatGPT prompts for emails

With all this in mind, how can you use ChatGPT or other AI chatbots to up your email game? Here are four handy-dandy ways you can make the chatbot work for you, complete with an example of a query you could use.
  1. Generating new emails, including multiple versions of the same template. If you keep a thread open, you can start with a query and then follow up with a prompt to refine your message: “Act as a marketing assistant. Write a compelling promotional campaign email about [product] highlighting [list three features] and informing of [discount] lasting until [date].” After the text is generated, you can add “Modify the above email to focus on [feature x]”.
  2. Checking your grammar and spelling. Paste the text of your message into the chat field and use the prompt “Correct the spelling and grammar of this email”.
  3. Getting your reply right. An AI chatbot can actually write an email reply for you. Just paste the text of the email into the field and provide the points you’d like to include in your answer. “Write a professional reply to this email declining the meeting due to scheduling conflict and proposing new date on Oct. 4.”
  4. Keeping it concise. If you have been trying to draft the perfect message but feel like you’ve been rambling, paste the text you have into the query field and ask “Reformulate this email as a single paragraph highlighting [3 main points].
  5. Hitting the right tone. Emotions are running high and you would like to keep things professional? Paste in your draft and prompt “Edit this email to give it a professional and productive tone.”
Screenshot of ChatGPT query
ChatGPT can keep you from flaming your coworker

Ready to try using AI as your personal email assistant? Before you get started, why not leave us some feedback below? And if you still don’t have a mail.com email account, you can sign up today!

Images: 1&1/Shutterstock

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