Rhonda Scharf explains how to use ChatGPT and understand how it works

When I wrote Alexa Is Stealing Your Job in 2019, artificial intelligence was a subject very few people knew much about. I was excited about what it could do for our roles, and although the title of my book is negative, the contents are not.

Since that time, the conversation surrounding AI has exploded exponentially. It is a controversial subject that people love to debate the pros and cons about. Regardless of how you feel about it (not all is good and not all is bad), it is something we need to be educated about so that our opinions are based on our realities.

In November 2022, the ability to use AI became mainstream with the introduction of ChatGPT. You didn’t need special tools; it was free to use, and suddenly, it became the conversation everywhere.

Although ChatGPT quickly gathered 100 million users (faster than any platform has ever accomplished), millions of people have never tried it, and even though they know they need to at least play with it, they have no idea where to begin.

This article will show you how to use and understand how Chat GPT works. And although I could have used ChatGPT to write this article, I didn’t. I still enjoy the writing process and invested more time to ensure it was written in my voice. That may not have been the most efficient use of my time (as AI should save you time), but it is consistent with my brand, which is more important than saving an hour of my time.

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is similar to an internet search. Let’s assume you went into Google to ask for a template for creating an agenda for an annual general meeting. Google would come back with thousands of links (if not more) where you could see samples that other people have created, read articles about it, and potentially download templates you could use.

You would click on one link at a time to read the article or download that template. That is time-consuming but gives you quite a variety and potentially several templates (all of which would need you to adjust them to your needs).

ChatGPT consolidates all that information into one answer. It scours the internet, “reads” all of that information, and compiles one answer for you with (hopefully) the best of the best information on the internet.

It is designed to understand human prompts and generate human-like text responses.

If it created a template that included something (or omitted something) that you needed to adjust, your conversation would ask for an adjustment. It would make that adjustment. See the example below for a sample of how it looks.

But let’s start at the beginning and show you how you set up your ChatGPT account and use it.

Creating an Account

There is the free version and the paid version. For most people, the free version is enough. I will only use the free version samples in this document.

Please note that many companies ban the use of ChatGPT and similar programs. Artificial intelligence creates knowledge by what it “reads” on the internet. If you upload a document into an AI-based program, it has that knowledge and can/will use it anywhere. While most people are not using AI with sabotage in mind, we know that far too many do. Giving access to your information is unintentionally sharing access to your systems, private information, and confidential corporate information. I do not suggest you upload or provide access to anything that belongs to your organization. Before using ChatGPT, please check with your leadership or IT team to ensure compliance.

You can also play with ChatGPT on your phone (assuming you are not using a work phone). There are many similar apps, but the official one is called ChatGPT. Most of them are built on ChatGPT as a base, so pick the one you like best.

Website: https://chat.openai.com

Create a Username and Password

It is that easy. You are set up. The free account uses the GPT 3.5 model (paid uses the 4.0 model), standard response speed, and regular updates. The paid version is $20 USD per month. It has faster response speeds and access to plugins and advanced data analysis.

The app for ChatGPT works similarly; it is only a bit more work to use the content without a lot of fancy copy-and-paste steps and email it to yourself. Hardly difficult but a little more cumbersome to use.

Asking ChatGPT to Do Something

We know that ChatGPT can do many tasks to save us time. That is the most significant benefit of artificial intelligence.

As mentioned, it uses a plain language model in over 50 languages. The same way you would ask me to do something is the way you ask ChatGPT.

You can also have a “conversation” with your new AI colleague and ask it to adjust the instructions.

Rhonda’s Prompt: Create an agenda for a Board of Directors AGM
Certainly, here’s a sample agenda for a Board of Directors Annual General Meeting (AGM):
**[Organization Name] Board of Directors Annual General Meeting Agenda**
**Date:** [Date]
**Time:** [Time]
**Location:** [Location]
**1. Call to Order**
   – Welcome by the Chairperson
   – Roll call of Directors
   – Verification of Quorum
**2. Approval of the Agenda**
   – Motion to approve the agenda
   – Seconding of the motion
   – Vote on the agenda
**3. Approval of Minutes**
   – Review and approval of minutes from the previous AGM
   – Motion to approve the minutes
   – Seconding of the motion
   – Vote on the minutes
**4. Chairman’s Report**
   – Overview of the organization’s achievements and challenges over the past year
   – Discussion of major accomplishments
   – Recognition of outstanding contributions
   – Questions and comments from the Directors
**5. Financial Report**
   – Presentation of the annual financial statements
   – Auditor’s Report (if applicable)
   – Discussion of the budget for the upcoming year
   – Questions and comments from the Directors
**6. CEO/Executive Director’s Report**
   – Highlights of organizational activities, projects, and goals
   – Updates on strategic initiatives
   – Key performance metrics and outcomes
   – Questions and comments from the Directors
**7. Committee Reports**
   – Reports from any Board committees (e.g., Finance Committee, Governance Committee, etc.)
   – Discussion of committee recommendations and actions
**8. Elections and Appointments**
   – Election of Directors (if any terms are expiring)
   – Appointment of Officers (e.g., Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer)
   – Nominations from the floor (if applicable)
   – Voting on elections and appointments
**9. New Business**
   – Discussion of any new items brought forward by Directors or members
   – Resolutions or motions on new Business
**10. Strategic Planning and Goals**
    – Discussion of the organization’s strategic plan or goals for the upcoming year(s)
    – Alignment of the plan with the mission and vision of the organization
**11. Member Questions and Comments**
    – Opportunity for members or stakeholders to ask questions or provide comments
**12. Other Business**
    – Any other matters that need to be addressed
**13. Adjournment**
    – Motion to adjourn the meeting
    – Seconding of the motion
    – Vote on adjournment
**14. Networking and Refreshments**
    – Informal time for networking and socializing (if applicable)
Please note that the specific agenda items and their order may vary depending on your organization’s bylaws and the nature of your AGM. Make sure to customize this template to suit the needs of your organization. Additionally, consider including time limits for each agenda item to ensure that the meeting stays on schedule.

Understand Its Limitations

As I mentioned, all AI has pros and cons, specifically ChatGPT. So many that that would be a standalone article. The quick answer is that the information that ChatGPT answers you with is based on what the internet had access to as of September 2021.

You could ask who the current Prime Minister of England is, and it will tell you that it is Boris Johnson.

ChatGPT has a great imagination and does make up information. Anytime you get a statistic, a quote, or a “fact,” it is essential to double-check that it is using reliable sources. ChatGPT is not a reliable source.

ChatGPT is also very sensitive to the questions you ask, so by slightly changing the wording of your question, you may get entirely different answers.

It is also extremely wordy when it answers. The request for the agenda as shown above is a perfect example. You could ask it to summarize the agenda or remove certain sections if you want it to be shorter. You’ll also learn to give it that instruction at the beginning, such as, “Write me a 100-word email asking my executive to meet with me Monday at 10 a.m. for a conversation about my pay.”

Prompt Tips

Phrasing the question in the best possible way is the best way to save you time while using artificial intelligence.

Be clear and specific

Avoid any word, phrase, or statement that is vague or ambiguous. For instance, I clearly asked for an agenda in my question above. If I had asked for “Best practices for an AGM,” I would get a different response. The more precise your request, the more ChatGPT can understand and generate a relevant answer.

Give context

While being clear and specific, we also want to give context to our instructions. If I am looking for tasks that ChatGPT can help me with, I will get a different answer: “Give me ten tasks you can help me save time on at work” versus “Give me ten tasks you can help an Executive Assistant same time on at work.” Provide context within your prompt. Briefly explain the background or context of your question to help the system understand your request better.

Use open-ended questions

Frame your prompts as open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions. Open-ended prompts encourage more detailed and informative responses.

Experiment with length

Experiment with the length of your prompts. Sometimes, concise prompts work well, while other tasks may benefit from more detailed or explanatory prompts.

Break down complex questions

Long and convoluted questions can overwhelm both AI and human readers.

Adjust as needed

Be prepared to refine your prompts if the initial response is different from what you expected. You can ask follow-up questions or rephrase your request to guide the model in the right direction. Tell it what you like and don’t like about its answer.

Asking for steps or processes

Consider asking for steps, processes, or guidelines to get helpful information to save you time. For instance, instead of asking, “How do I create a template for an AGM?”, try, “Give me a template I can use for an AGM for my Board of Directors.”

Ask for examples or comparisons

When seeking guidance or clarification, ask for examples or comparisons. Instead of asking, “Which is the best program to create a Gantt chart in?”, ask, “Can you compare Excel and Microsoft Project for creating Gantt charts?”


There will be improved AI options available soon. They are creating new AI programs daily. Hopefully, there will be regulation and control so that AI is not an unsafe option at work.

Until then, get familiar. Experiment. See what it can do for you and what it can’t. It can save you time, but like all new skills, it takes time to develop the skill. Invest some time in understanding what all the fuss is about. Be sure you aren’t the only person at the table that says, “Chat what?”

And, FYI, the GPT in ChatGPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer. Now you have the answer to the most challenging trivia question coming your way in the next few years.

Rhonda Scharf, CSP, HoF, GSF is a Certified Speaking Professional, Hall of Fame, trainer and author based in Ottawa. She helps organizations feel motivated and educated through her interactive, realistic and fun training programs and keynote speeches. If ... (Read More)

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