In a world where time and energy are limited resources, accomplishing everything within the constraints of a day can be a challenge. However, the advent of ChatGPT has brought about a fundamental change.
We now have the convenience of accessing artificial intelligence (AI) that can significantly speed up tasks and reduce effort. This not only enhances the quality of our work but also frees up more time and energy to focus on more valuable and fulfilling endeavors.
The key lies in taking that first step. A recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that a mere 12% of Americans have utilized ChatGPT for work-related tasks.
As we continue to explore the boundless potential of ChatGPT and similar tools, it's crucial to acknowledge that we are still in the early stages of fully comprehending their capabilities. This presents an excellent opportunity to embrace the possibilities offered by AI and give it a try.
To help you effectively incorporate ChatGPT into your daily work, here are some initial lessons I've learned:
- Save time and energy on wordsmithing. ChatGPT can help you quickly rework sentences or paragraphs you’re struggling to get right. You can prompt ChatGPT to generate alternatives to a block of text, for example, by providing instructions to shorten it, clarify it, adjust the style, tone and much more — the possibilities seem endless.
- Quickly complete burdensome, delicate or garden-variety tasks. Conflicting demands in the workplace often challenge time and energy. Important strategic work can be sidelined by quick requests or difficult emails. Preparing for meetings and tasks that require creativity can also cause delays. ChatGPT can save time, prevent procrastination, and allow more focus on crucial work. It can draft a warm, respectful, yet firm email template to deny a request while keeping details confidential. You can easily modify it by adding specific details and your own voice.
You can also use ChatGPT to generate discussion guides, suggest interview questions, brainstorm names for newsletters and much, much more — these are all examples of how my colleagues at Mayo Clinic have used ChatGPT so far.
3. Augment, assist and accelerate projects. ChatGPT also has the potential to transform how you plan and execute projects. From the outset, ChatGPT can generate step-by-step project outlines to help you accelerate the planning process. Once you have broken a project into steps, you can use ChatGPT in many ways to assist with specific tasks.
Let’s say you’re planning a forum focused on the uses of generative AI in health care. You could start by asking ChatGPT to advise on the steps involved in planning such a forum. You can also ask it to help develop an agenda, brainstorm ideas for break-out sessions, advise on strategies for guest lists, draft invitations for speakers and attendees, develop scripting, generate suggested questions for panel discussions and much more.
4. Strengthen your thinking. There is also a “two heads are better than one” aspect to ChatGPT that has a great promise. Examples include:
- Pressure testing or seeking an objective point of view. ChatGPT can provide pros and cons for a given situation, help you identify blind spots in your thinking or help you recognize unintentional biases you might have. You can prompt it to provide a list of questions that an investigative reporter might ask, list arguments the opposing side would take to a given position or act as a devil’s advocate.
- Tapping a wide range of expertise. You can utilize ChatGPT as an expert in various fields, seeking its analysis on how professionals would approach specific situations. For example, in the context of a health care event, I asked ChatGPT to act as a risk management expert and provide insights on potential risks faced by the organization. This yielded valuable considerations like regulatory compliance, intellectual property, patent infringement and ethical risks.
You can also ask ChatGPT to act as an expert in prompting. You can say something like, “I want to do X. What are the most effective prompts to get the best results from ChatGPT?” ChatGPT will then provide a list of prompts to get you started.
- Checking or analyzing your work. ChatGPT can serve as both a starting point and a way to double-check your work. For instance, you can create a communications plan and then use ChatGPT to generate an alternate plan to ensure important aspects weren't overlooked or discover new ideas. Similarly, ChatGPT can analyze the effectiveness of headlines for specific audiences or publications and offer improvements based on the analysis.
5. View it as a virtual intern. Using ChatGPT requires clear awareness of its capabilities, flaws and limitations. Think of it as a highly talented yet flawed intern. While fast, smart and versatile, the intern has a tendency to make up information convincingly, putting you at risk of plagiarism, copyright infringement, bias perpetuation and potential libel. The intern's writing may also be generic or exaggerated, even with specific directions.
To address these issues, give ChatGPT clear guidance, closely supervise its output, fact-check everything it produces and take full responsibility for how its outputs are utilized.
6. Ask and ask again. One of the best aspects of ChatGPT is that it is tireless, allowing you to dig deeper, work past obvious examples and find new ways of thinking. Ask it to repeat the same task over and over in a way you wouldn’t ask a person to do. Ways to do this include:
- “Try again” or “provide more examples.” If a ChatGPT output doesn’t provide what you are looking for, you can simply ask it to try again, providing specific instructions for the refinement. You can do this repeatedly until you get something closer to what you’re looking for.
You can also push ChatGPT to provide additional ideas or add to a list it has provided. After asking it to provide use cases for business communication, for example, you can keep asking it for more. This is a good way to push past the obvious and discover new ideas.
- Dig deeper. After receiving an output from ChatGPT, you can explore specific components, such as requesting a detailed analysis of target audiences and effective communication channels for an event.
- Refine your prompts. By clicking on the pencil icon next to your original prompt, you can edit the prompt to refine the output it generates. Using the same communications plan example, you can go back to the initial prompt and ask it to build out sections in more detail, add other sections or make any other adjustments.
7. Find the right balance. To effectively use ChatGPT, it's crucial to strike a balance that aligns with your skills, experiences, preferences and work style. Rather than using it for the sake of using it, utilize ChatGPT as a problem-solving tool that alleviates burdens and aids in achieving your desired outcomes. If it becomes cumbersome or fails to meet your expectations, it's best to handle the task independently.
Here are additional factors to keep in mind when using ChatGPT:
- Be safe and responsible. When providing inputs, avoid sharing confidential or sensitive information. If you're uncertain, use generic prompts to obtain helpful outputs. At the Mayo Clinic Communications Department, we rework outputs enough to claim them as our own. And if you feel conflicted about attributing content to ChatGPT, you may be relying on it too much.
- Build a common approach. It’s helpful to have common guidelines and rules for engagement for ChatGPT in an organization. We’re still early in the process at the Mayo Clinic Communications Department, but have started a process of formal adoption with our teams that I described in this LinkedIn article.
- Develop an AI intuition. The best way to learn about ChatGPT and similar tools is to experiment with them, see how they work and develop a sense for how they can help you. This can lead to developing an AI intuition for when to use these tools most effectively.
Giving examples of the ways you can use ChatGPT is like making a list of how to use electricity — there are so many possibilities. Be safe, be responsible, give it a try and see what more you can discover.
A senior director of communications at Mayo Clinic, Matt Russell advises clinical practice leadership and co-leads a communications department work group that has established guidelines, use cases, and training processes for ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence tools.
A former journalist, Russell has won awards for feature writing and investigative reporting. In his time at Mayo Clinic, Russell was the communications lead for the $3.76 billion Campaign for Mayo Clinic. He also led Mayo Clinic’s engagement with PBS for the premiere tour supporting the Ken Burns documentary “The Mayo Clinic.”