A couple of people have written to point out a flaw in the proposal I made the other day — and yeah, they have a point. That point is that in a conversational environment like the one I imagined the floor would be dominated, especially in an academic setting, by pompous bores: people who think that — since, after all, they really should be the Distinguished Guest and Center of Attention — a Q&A session is the right venue for them to pontificate, and in a way that might eventuate in a question but only after many, many words are said.
I can’t deny that this is not only likely but inevitable, if the Q&A session is unscripted and uncontrolled. So we need an adjustment or two. One possibility would be written questions submitted in advance; another, better, one would be to have a moderator give people one minute in which to formulate their question. I say that model would be better, but it requires a moderator willing to be ruthless — and so few academics are willing to be ruthless. Except in private, of course.