Context is King: Upgrade Your Gemini Conversations

Leon Nicholls
6 min readMar 21, 2024

Are you and your fancy AI chatbot on the same wavelength? Even the most powerful AI models, like Google Gemini, need our help to get on the right track. The secret ingredient? Context! Context is all those background details that help someone (or something!) make sense of what’s going on.

It’s like trying to help a friend navigate without knowing their starting point, destination, or even the best route. The more context we give our AI companions, the better their responses will be. So, let’s dive into the world of context clues and see how they can unlock Gemini’s true potential!

Note: This article spotlights techniques for the Google Gemini Advanced chatbot (a paid service). While these concepts also apply to the free version, we’ll focus on the enhanced capabilities offered by the Advanced subscription.

The Power of Context

Context clues are bits of information that fill in the blanks. They help us understand a situation without having everything spelled out word-for-word. We use context clues in everyday conversations — often without even noticing!

Imagine this: a friend texts you, “Almost there!” You immediately want more context. Where is “there”? Are they coming to meet you? Understanding what they mean depends on all those extra details.

Gemini works similarly. If we ask, “Write a poem,” Gemini is left guessing what we’re after. But give it some context, and it’s much more likely to shine!

Types of Context

We know context is important, but what kinds of context can we give Gemini? Here’s a breakdown of some of the most powerful ones:

  • Your AI BFF Has a Memory: Think of your chats with Gemini as one long, ongoing conversation. Gemini often remembers what you’ve talked about before. If you’ve been discussing space travel, ask, “What about the atmosphere?” Gemini will likely understand you’re asking about the atmosphere of a planet you discussed earlier, not the atmosphere in your living room.
  • Give Gemini a Crash Course: Sometimes, you need Gemini to understand a particular topic. You can provide articles, summaries, or just a few sentences of background info to help. It’s like giving Gemini a quick study guide before the test! For example, if you want a product description for a new fitness gadget, feeding Gemini some information about its features and target audience will make all the difference.
  • Laser-Focus Your Requests: The more specific your prompts, the better the results! Clear language, precise details, and examples will guide Gemini directly to the response you’re looking for. Think of yourself as a GPS for Gemini — if you want it to get to the coolest local coffee shop and not just a generic Starbucks, you’ve got to provide the right directions.
  • Setting the Task: State your goal upfront. Instead of “Write a product description,” start with “Draft a persuasive product description for this new fitness tracker, emphasizing its health monitoring features.”
  • Provide Your Preferences: Let Gemini know what you like! Whether it’s a specific writing style, a formal tone, or a preference for detailed outputs, those clues guide the response: “Generate a vegan recipe for a main course dish, considering the following dietary restrictions: [list restrictions].”
  • Role Assignment: Gemini is versatile! Instruct it to take on a specific role for the task at hand. Need help with coding? Ask Gemini to “Act as a Python expert and help me troubleshoot this script.” Want a creative brainstorming session? Tell it, “You’re my wacky creative partner — let’s come up with some off-the-wall party ideas.”
  • Output Format: Don’t leave it up to chance! Please specify how you want Gemini to format its response. Example: “Summarize this news article in bullet points for a quick overview.” or “Write a persuasive email in a professional tone to convince the recipient to [action].”

Context in Action

It’s time for the fun stuff — let’s put this context business into practice! Here are a few examples of how feeding Gemini different context clues can lead to totally different results:

  • Creative Writing:
    Vague prompt: “Write a poem.”
    — Context-rich prompt: “Let’s write a haiku about a mischievous robot who loves playing pranks!”
  • Summarization:
    Vague prompt: “Summarize this article.”
    — Context-rich prompt: “Can you summarize this news article for me, focusing on the key points and the main arguments?”
  • Problem-solving:
    Vague prompt: “Help me plan a party.”
    — Context-rich prompt: “I need help brainstorming party ideas for a 5-year-old. Consider that we have a small budget and like outdoor activities.”
  • Providing domain-specific knowledge:
    Vague prompt: “Create a retirement plan.”
    — Context-rich prompt: “You are a financial advisor helping a client create a retirement plan. Consider the following information: [provide relevant financial concepts, regulations, and best practices].”
  • Providing examples or templates:
    Vague prompt: “Write a product description for a new smartwatch.”
    — Context-rich prompt: “Write a product description for a new smartwatch, following this template: [provide a template with sections like features, specifications, and benefits].”

How much more precise are our requests with just a bit of added context? Now, Gemini’s not just guessing — it has a roadmap to follow!

Level Up with Unusual Context Clues

Ready to stretch your prompt-writing skills and see what Gemini can do? Let’s dive into some seriously out-of-the-box examples and the unique context clues they use:

Are you ready to try some unconventional prompts yourself? Remember, the more unusual the context, the more surprising and exciting Gemini’s responses might become!

Tips and Best Practices

Now that you’re a pro at understanding context, let’s arm you with some extra tips to make your Gemini interactions even smoother:

  • Keep it Concise: While context is awesome, only overload Gemini with a bit of info all at once. Focus on the most important details for your specific question or task.
  • The Rephrase Trick: Keep going if Gemini misinterprets your prompt! Try rephrasing your prompt and adding more explicit context for a better shot at getting the desired result.
  • Get Experimental: The best way to get a feel for context’s power is to play around! Try feeding Gemini different types of context and see how the responses change. You might be surprised at the creative and insightful things it offers.
  • Chaining Prompts: Use the output of one Gemini query as the context for a follow-up question. This creates a dynamic, evolving conversation (see my article on chaining for more details).
  • Roleplaying: Tell Gemini, “Act like a seasoned detective with a gruff voice.” This instantly changes the ‘personality’ of its responses.

Conclusion

By now, you’ve probably realized context is your secret weapon when communicating with LLMs like Gemini! With some background knowledge, focused requests, and the willingness to experiment, you can make Gemini seriously helpful and surprising.

Remember, the better you understand your AI companion, the better it will understand you. So, go forth and put your new context skills into action!

Check out my reading list of other Google Gemini articles.

This post was created with the help of AI writing tools, carefully reviewed, and polished by the human author.

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