These days a lot of conferences are being recorded and even live broadcast on the net. So they make a rule that people asking questions must wait for the microphone, causing long pauses that ruin the momentum of a debate or discussion.
I recommend conferences doing this get one of those small parabolic microphones if they can (mount it on the video camera if there is operator controlled video) or give it to an assistant. They can point it at the asker, and then they can talk until a better microphone arrives.
Another option (which might actually be good for coordinating questions) would be to tell question askers to phone a special number on their cell phone. When they are acknowledged to talk, they would press a key, and the sound mixer guy could unmute their channel. They could talk, at low fidelity until the wireless mic arrives. This could also be a way to line up for questions. The moderator could announce a the last few digits in the participant’s phone number (enough to be unique) and allow that phone into the sound system.
People with laptops could also use a voice app (perhaps even through the non-connected AP described in the prior blog post) if they had a microphone on their laptop!