The Copilot for Microsoft 365 Prompt Guide

The Copilot for Microsoft 365 Prompt Guide.

The Copilot for Microsoft 365 Prompt Guide

Copilot for Microsoft 365 has been rolling out to businesses across the world over the past few months, with enough reviews to warrant interest for those still on the fence. Many businesses opting into Copilot are doing so believing that it will be an instant solve to many of their productivity issues, but AI isn’t magic. While Microsoft may advertise Copilot as the next stage of business evolution, it requires a bit of effort on your part to get the ball rolling. This is where prompts come into play.

The Copilot for Microsoft 365 Prompt Guide

What Are Microsoft Copilot Prompts?

What Are Microsoft Copilot Prompts?

Prompting is a skillset that takes time to master, but everyone must start somewhere. Prompts are the series of commands necessary to get an AI like Copilot to follow your instruction and start creating content. These can be simple or complex depending on how long or how many prompts you use to reach a desired goal, but if the AI can follow your lead accurately, prompts can make your daily process much simpler.

To get the best responses from Copilot, you should structure your prompts with four key elements to act as a guide.

  1. Goal: What response do you want from Copilot?
  2. Context: Why do you need it and who is involved?
  3. Source: Which information sources or samples should Copilot use?
  4. Expectations: How should Copilot respond to best meet your expectations?

Adding these points together would create a prompt that looked something like:

  1. Generate 3-5 bullet points
  2. to prepare me for a meeting with the marketing department to discuss branding guidelines.
  3. Focus on emails, Teams chats, and PDF content since October 2023.
  4. Please be direct and use simple language.

The prompt is created through a hierarchy of needs. The Goal is necessary to achieve a desired outcome. The Context and Source are important to laying out guidelines for Copilot to follow and narrow its focus. The Expectations aren’t always necessary but further tailor the experience to a desired outcome, so they can be added or ignored as needed.

Basic prompts have five fundamental ways to best utilize Copilot, which are:

Copilot Prompting: To Catch Up

Use this prompt to get Copilot to provide you with a summary. Imagine a typical workday. It’s been a long day full of meetings, some of which have overlapped and forced you to back out of one in favor of the other. Your teammates are working on other projects, so at best you get a recording of the meeting with the expectation of watching it later to get filled in on the details.

That’s potentially an additional 30 or more minutes to listen back on the meeting, pick out areas where you could have asked questions, and find pertinent information for your own ongoing projects. You now must set aside time later to go over the details or create a follow up meeting with some of the team members to fill you in.

With Copilot, catching up has never been easier. You could prompt the AI to help you find out what’s new by asking “What’s the latest from /[name], organized by emails, chats, and files?” You could get back up to speed by asking “Summarize Teams messages from this week about /[topic].” Or you could use Copilot to find pertinent action items from the recent meeting by asking “Are there any action items for me from /[persons] meeting?” No more time spent reviewing manually or asking around the office to see what you missed; now Copilot can fill you in and get you back in the groove.

Copilot Prompting: To Understand

Not all documents are made equal. Some PDFs are the size of a small book, while others are so full of details and statistics that the data, you’re looking for can blend in with everything else. If you’re working through an important document and get the feeling that you’re lost or missing out on important information, Copilot can help.

To save time, you can prompt Copilot to summarize by saying “Explain this document in two or three sentences.” If you are looking at a series of documents with interconnected datapoints, you can stay on track by prompting “What are the dates and deadlines mentioned in /[previous document]?” If you feel that there is corresponding data that could point towards certain outcomes, you can prompt Copilot with “Are there any trends in my data that show changes in customer interest?” You don’t have to spend hours pouring over documents when you have an AI assistant to help speed up the work.

Copilot Prompting: To Edit

You’ve got a presentation due in the next few hours, but your schedule is already packed with other work. At this rate you may have to skip lunch to get everything in order in time. Not ideal, but such is life. Or is it? With Copilot, edits and adjustments are a breeze, no matter where you are deciding to create them.
If you need to add a slide, just prompt Copilot to “Add a slide about the benefits of our newest brand campaign.”

You can have Copilot reorganize your thoughts by prompting “Organize this presentation into 3 phases that communicate the lifecycle of our customer journey.” You could even use Copilot for planning or variation creation by prompting “Give me X variations of [slogan] for our new marketing campaign,” or “Create a marketing plan for [campaign]. This campaign needs to [goals] for [audience] and drive them to [call to action].” Creating and editing your projects is now much faster through Copilot.

Copilot Prompting: To Create

Speaking of creation, the process behind your projects takes time. Forming ideas, putting them to use, contacting the right people, and even introducing the concept take time and effort. With Copilot prompting, you can simplify the creation stage to give yourself more time to put it in action.

You can have Copilot create ideas for you by prompting “Suggest ways to optimize our website for paid search.” Have Copilot write your emails by prompting “Write an email introducing [project] to the team and highlight the three most important points.” You can even have Copilot get the content creation process going for you by prompting “Write an intro paragraph for this document.” Now that you’re past the starting line, you can focus on the finish

Copilot Prompting: To Ask

Sometimes you’ll get stuck in your work. Writers block strikes at the most inopportune time or the inspiration on how to tackle a certain project just isn’t striking. Copilot can answer questions to help jog your memory or get you the information necessary to move forward on a project.

You can get suggestions for document improvement by prompting “Give me specific examples from this document on how I can improve it for an internal review?” Find new ways to approach the same old subjects by prompting “How can I more concisely describe [topic]?” Remind yourself when an important meeting is supposed to happen by prompting “When is my next meeting with /[person]?” Ask Copilot to help and your AI assistant will do the rest.

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