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AI Prompt: Explain It Like I’m Five

“Explain like I’m five” or ELI5, is an idea that started on Twitter (now X) as #ELI5  and spawned the Explain Like I’m Five subreddit. ELI5 takes a complex idea or concept and goes through the mental exercise of simplifying it in a way that a young child can understand.

In this BENlabs take on ELI5, we’ll hit on some common — and not so common — terms relating to marketing, influence, and AI and do our best to distill them into simple terms without losing too much of the nuance.

Define AI Prompt and Basic Prompt Engineering in ELI5

Let’s say you have a magic genie who can do almost anything you ask, but there’s a trick: you have to tell the genie exactly what you want… and you have to tell it in just the right way. If you don’t, the genie might get confused and do something you didn’t want or expect.

For example, if you said to the genie “make me a turkey sandwich,” you would expect the genie to make a turkey sandwich for you. You’d probably be pretty surprised if instead it turned you

into a turkey sandwich. Or maybe you wouldn’t because turkey sandwiches probably can’t feel surprised.

This genie is like a “large language model” (LLM) AI tool (like ChatGPT, Claude, Gemini, etc.) in that it can do some pretty incredible things, but you have to ask in the right way. The better you can explain what it is you want, the more likely the genie (or the AI) is going to be able to give it to you.

That’s where prompts come in. 

What is an ai agent - an internet help

What is a Prompt?

A prompt is the instruction you give to an AI tool. It’s what you say or type to tell the AI what you want it to do. For example, you could use the prompt: “give me ideas for show-and-tell” and the AI tool will give you some ideas to get started.

AI Prompt Results for “give me ideas for show-and-tell”

Travel Souvenir: Bring a unique souvenir from a trip and share the story behind it. Explain where it’s from, how you got it, and what makes it special.

Family Heirloom: Present an old family heirloom, such as a piece of jewelry, a photo, or an old book. Talk about its history and why it’s important to your family.

Hobby Demonstration: Showcase a hobby you’re passionate about. This could be anything from a musical instrument you play, a piece of artwork you’ve created, or a model you’ve built.

Pet Introduction: If feasible, introduce your pet. Talk about its breed, its personality, and any special tricks or behaviors it has.

Science Experiment: Conduct a simple science experiment. Explain the materials needed, the process, and the scientific principles behind it.

Favorite Book or Movie: Share your favorite book or movie. Explain why you love it, give a brief summary, and discuss the characters or themes that stand out to you.

Cultural Artifact: Present an artifact or item that represents your culture or heritage. Explain its significance and how it’s used in cultural practices.

Homemade Craft or Recipe: Show a craft you’ve made or a dish you’ve cooked. Explain the steps involved and why you enjoy making it.

Nature Collection: Bring a collection of natural items, such as rocks, shells, or leaves. Describe where you found them and any interesting facts about each item.

Personal Achievement: Share an award, certificate, or trophy you’ve received. Talk about what you did to earn it and why it’s meaningful to you.

Historical Artifact: Present an item related to a historical event or figure. Explain its significance and how it relates to history.

Puzzle or Game: Demonstrate a favorite puzzle or game. Explain how it’s played and what you enjoy about it.

Tech Gadget: Showcase a piece of technology that fascinates you. Explain how it works and why it’s interesting.

Garden Plant: Bring a plant from your garden. Talk about how you care for it, its growth process, and any unique features.

Astronomy Item: Share a telescope, a star chart, or photographs of celestial events. Discuss your interest in astronomy and any fascinating facts you’ve learned.

Those ideas might be helpful but if you give a better prompt, you’ll get a better result. You need to tell the genie AI a bit more about what you want. For example:

“I want to share my favorite stuffed animal for show and tell. Please help me figure out what I should tell people about it. Its name is Muffin. It’s an alligator. I got it when I was on vacation.”

Clarified AI Prompt Results

That sounds like a wonderful choice for show and tell! Here’s a structured outline to help you present your favorite stuffed animal, Muffin the alligator:


    1. Greeting: Start with a friendly greeting.
      • “Hi everyone, today I want to share something very special to me.”
    2. Introduce Muffin: Give a brief introduction to your stuffed animal.
      • “This is Muffin, my favorite stuffed animal. Muffin is an alligator.”

Story Behind Muffin

    1. How You Got Muffin: Explain where and when you got Muffin.
      • “I got Muffin when I was on vacation last summer.”
    2. Vacation Details: Share a bit about the vacation to give context.
      • “We were visiting [name of the place, e.g., Florida], and I found Muffin in a cute little toy store near the beach.”

Why Muffin is Special

    1. Personal Connection: Talk about why Muffin is important to you.
      • “Muffin is special to me because it reminds me of that fun vacation and all the great memories we made.”
    2. Favorite Things About Muffin: Describe what you love about Muffin.
      • “I love Muffin because it’s so soft and cuddly. I also think it’s really cute how Muffin has these little stitched eyes and a big, friendly smile.”

Fun Facts and Unique Features

    1. Unique Characteristics: Point out any unique features or fun facts about Muffin.
      • “One of Muffin’s unique features is its bright green color and the little bumps on its back, just like a real alligator!”
    2. Any Adventures Together: Share if you and Muffin have had any adventures or special moments together.
      • “Muffin and I have had lots of adventures together. For example, Muffin always comes with me on road trips and we even had a picnic together once!”


    1. Wrap-Up: Sum up why you chose to share Muffin.
      • “I chose to share Muffin today because it’s not just a stuffed animal to me, it’s a reminder of happy times and a constant companion.”
    2. Invite Questions: End by inviting your audience to ask questions.
      • “Thank you for listening! Does anyone have any questions about Muffin?”

Optional Additions

    • Show a Picture: If you have a photo of you with Muffin on vacation, you could show it to the class.
    • Let Others Hold Muffin: If appropriate, you might let classmates take a closer look or hold Muffin for a moment.
AI agent understands your interests

Why a Good AI Prompt is Important

Good prompts are important because they help the AI know exactly what you want.

How to Give a Good AI Prompt

  1. Be Clear: Use clear words. Instead of saying, “Make something,” say, “Make a blue house out of Lego.”
  2. Be Specific: Give details. If you want a picture, say, “Draw a picture of a happy dog playing with a ball.”
  3. Give Examples: If you want the genie to copy something, show it an example. Like, “Make a castle like this one,” and show a picture of a castle.

Telling the AI what you want it to be before you tell it what you want it to do can help a lot. For example: “You are an expert (blog content writer / kindergarten educator / data analyst).”

An AI Prompt Example

Let’s say you want the robot to tell you a bedtime story about dinosaurs. You could say, “Tell me a story.” But that’s not very clear. Instead, you can say, “tell me a funny story about a baby dinosaur who finds a magic hat,” and you’ll get a better result.

The thing to remember is this: whether you’re talking to a genie or to an AI tool, the more clear you are with what you’re asking for, the more they will be able to help.

And by the same token, the more you use AI tools, the better you’ll get at creating an AI prompt that helps the AI give you exactly what you’re looking for.

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